A Fresh Start — But Not Just for Me

Written by Sister Michelle Watson on Wednesday, January 08, 2014. Posted in Devotional

A Fresh Start — But Not Just for Me

At New Year's, we often evaluate ourselves based on how many pounds we weigh, how much money we make, our marital status, or the possessions we own. What if our biggest priority was to evaluate ourselves based on our relationships with other people?

In 3 Nephi 11:30, Jesus says, "Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away."

When I sit down for some much-needed New Year's self-evaluation, I can't avoid asking myself hard questions:

  • Did I provoke anyone to anger on purpose?
  • Did I knowingly spread gossip?
  • Did I stir the pot in my branch or my family or my workplace?
  • Did I say something to prejudice someone against someone else?
  • Do I use inflammatory words?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, that means I have relationships to mend. Before I focus on implementing a weight-loss regimen or planning for a promotion, I should go to these people and ask for a fresh start.

New Year's is a great excuse to ask for a fresh start. "We're heading into a new year, and I really want to make things right between us." "I know I haven't treated you very well in the past, and I'm committed to changing that this year."

Maybe the shoe is on the other foot — maybe someone has asked you for a fresh start, and you haven't allowed it yet. I reflect on my own life and ask myself, "Is someone seeking to repair a relationship with me? Is someone reaching out to me? Does someone need my acceptance and love?" Just because they haven't come right out and verbally asked me doesn't mean they haven't asked me a bunch of times in roundabout ways.

In 3 Nephi, Jesus said that His doctrine doesn't produce an angry heart. A few verses later, He says what His doctrine is all about: "ye must repent […] and become as a little child" (verse 38). I know I need to do that in my own life. How about you?

But wait a minute. What about those stubborn people who don't deserve a fresh start? What about the people who have abused me? Who have ignored me? There are a few people who I frankly don't want a good relationship with.

Well, all I can ask myself at this point is, "Do I want to be like Jesus or not?" Jesus gave me a fresh start when I didn't deserve one. He kept loving me even when I abused that love. He remembered to bless me even when I ignored Him. He never didn't want me. My righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and I need to crawl into His arms like a little child and repent.

If I want to be more like Jesus in 2014, I need to think about this. If I'm a grateful recipient of God's grace, why can't I extend that same grace to others?

More than wanting to be skinny or wanting to make more money or wanting to elevate my status of living, I want to love God by loving my neighbors, my family, and my brothers and sisters in Christ.

It seems like a really hard thing to do. But remember what God asked Jeremiah, "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?" (Jeremiah 23:23). I don't have to do it alone. Jesus is right there to help me — and you, too!

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Comments (5)

  • Mr. Awkward

    Mr. Awkward

    08 January 2014 at 13:12 |
    Great article. The challenge for me right now is when someone is angry with you because you confronted them about something (prayerfully and as tactfully as possible), and they now hold a grudge against you. You want to have a good relationship with them, but they do not want to mend the relationship. My guess is that their pride was hurt by the confrontation. I could apologize, but I feel that the apology would be scoffed at, and - in reality - they needed to be corrected because their prior behavior was hurtful to me.

    I know this isn't "Dear Abbey", but maybe someone else has had a situation when they want to be on good terms with someone, but that person just won't have it.

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  • Teri-Lyn Tunno

    Teri-Lyn Tunno

    09 January 2014 at 21:54 |
    Excellent blog Sis. Michelle. This is something I struggle with. Sometimes my own pride gets in the way or even the other person. It definitely is very humbling. As for the situation with Mr. Awkward, prayer is the key!!

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  • Mr. Awkward

    Mr. Awkward

    09 January 2014 at 22:01 |
    This article was used as the basis for our Wednesday night lesson yesterday, and what we discussed helped me move forward with my situation. I felt God directing me to apologize to this person just for the mere act of having offended them. I have done so, and am leaving the rest up to God. Thanks for your support, Teri-Lyn, I continue to pray, and I feel much better about things. We will see how it all turns out!

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  • Sister Michelle

    Sister Michelle

    09 January 2014 at 22:10 |
    I'm so glad that you apologized, Mr. Awkward. Showing sincere, genuine humility demonstrates that you respect this person. In the past, people have told me things about myself that were true but that I didn't want to hear, and I immediately got defensive, even though I knew at the time they were right. After cooling off, I didn't feel mad at the person anymore. I hope that's what will happen with this individual. My prayers are with you!

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  • Teri-Lyn Tunno

    Teri-Lyn Tunno

    09 January 2014 at 22:25 |
    That is soooo awesome Mr. Awkward!! Trust that you did the right thing and made Jesus so very happy!! God will definitely bless your effort! :)

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